Departmental Review is available to obtain relief after an adverse DMV decision. As your attorney, we will send a letter to DMV in Sacramento, if we are specifically retained for this purpose and to do so and if you also pay the filing fee (see above). Then, a DMV employee will review the DMV file for any alleged errors. Theoretically, the DMV will give your driver’s license back if it is determined that the hearing officer committed an error in suspending your license. This is generally not the case, and most attorneys regard this process as ineffective and a waste of time. More importantly, the law does not provide a “stay” of the DMV suspension during the Departmental Review, so you cannot drive while you wait for a decision. There is an advantage, however, in that one can use the Departmental Review process to obtain an extension of the time to seek a Writ of Mandate in Superior Court.
Writ of Mandate
The writ of mandate is the method to appeal a DMV suspension. If you prevail, you get your license reinstated. If the Court determines the DMV acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner, the judge has the discretion to order damages along with reimbursement of your attorney’s fees.
The writ is an order from the San Diego Superior Court telling the DMV to reverse its decision suspending one’s driver’s license. The full legal term for a writ of mandate is a “writ of mandamus” or “writ of administrative mandamus.”
When we file an appeal, we are seeking a stay of the DMV decision. This is the temporary halt of the DMV order of suspension. The period of time varies somewhat within the court system depending upon the Superior Court’s calendar and the time that is reasonably necessary to challenge the DMV’s decision. The Judge needs an adequate period of time to review the DMV proceeding and to determine whether to issue a “writ.” Also, a driver should be afforded an opportunity to prove the suspension of his/her license was wrongful and should not be penalized during the time it takes for a judge to evaluate the evidence.